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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Suddenly Mrs Darcy

Suddenly Mrs Darcy by Jenetta James

An enjoyable and interesting twist on Pride and Prejudice, Suddenly Mrs Darcy will keep you reading late into the night. Written in a charming nineteenth-century style, this new story is told from Elizabeth's point of view. Although it may seem a little unbelievable at first, Elizabeth's lively character and the excellent writing soon makes it convincing.

In this novel, Elizabeth is caught in what looks like a compromising position with Mr Darcy. She quickly finds herself married and thrown into the deep end as the new mistress of Pemberley. However, Dark secrets seem to abound. Who is the strange woman Darcy visits, for example? Why doesn't he like Wickham? His condescending attitude to her family also annoys Elizabeth.

The love stor between the characters is well-developed and involving. James doesn't change the essential characters of Lizzy and Darcy, which I liked.

Most Jane Austen fans will appreciate this take on Pride and Prejudice.

A Special Relationship by Anthony Slide

This book by Anthony Slide about Americans  involved in the film industry who went to England is rather academic and dull. It is mainly useful for film-buffs and those who want to look up information.

I did enjoy a few anecdotes. For example, Anna Lee, who hated the IRA and didn't like the Irish much, used to look after Daniel Day-Lewis when he was young. 'If he'd known what he become, I would have drowned him,' she said!

This book is full of beautiful photos, however. It is worth buying for those alone.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Memories of the Mansion The Story of Georgia's Governor's Mansion by Sandra D. Deal, Jennifer W. Dickey, and Catherine M. Lewis University of Georgia Press

I enjoyed reading about the history of this stunning mansion with its exquisite furniture and gardens, and looking at the beautiful pictures in the book. It's amazing to think that the original governor of the colony lived in a tent! I hope to visit one day!

I received this ebook from University of Georgia Press via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Mayhem in Margeaux by Jean-Pierre Aleux and Noel Balen

Andrew McMillan, Vineyard Fields France,

In this charming wine mystery Benjamin investigates the death of a young chateaux manager and corruption in the wine industry. The setting moves from Bordeaux to the stunning French Riviera as Benjamin and his offside delve into the situation with the help of a rather terse police inspector. This is great fun with it's likeable, elegant characters and its descriptions of their luxurious way of life and the beautiful French countryside. The technical aspects of the types of wine and winemaking are also interesting.

If you like light, cozy mysteries, I highly recommend this one. I look forward to catching up on the rest of the series from the beginning.

I received this free ebook from Le French Book via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

This is a poignant novel based on the lives of women reporters in the Second World War.  It concerns the lives of beautiful, upper-class Liv, a photojournalist, journalist Jane, and a male photographer Fletcher, as they race to report on the Allied liberation of Paris.  Fletcher helps Liv and Jane who have gone AWOL because this is the only way that they will be able to do their work.

It's slow-moving, but richly-textured with well-rounded and likeable characters and a moving love story.  However,  its the vivid descriptions of the war that really lift this book above the ordinary, such as the Scribe Hotel, the press headquarters, which was taken over by journalists - even the loos had been taken over for film developing.  Also, the account of the Dutch living in caves in a small town was quite chilling.

I am certainly interested in reading more novels by Meg Waite Clayton.

I received this free ebook from Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

Harem The World Behind the Veil by Alev Lytle Croutier

Croutier describes the sumptuous but languid life of captives in the harem in this book.  There are sections about the delicious food, the gorgeous clothes, and the grand interior decorations.  The rituals of weddings and other ceremonies are vividly detailed, as well.  Croutier brings the book to life with anecdotes from her own life and historical accounts and letters.

I liked the tales of the Western sultanas the best, including Roxelana and Aimee de Rivery.  These women captured the hearts of the sultans and managed to become extremely powerful.  Roxelana even managed to marry her sultan, which was highly unusual!

This book made me interested in Croutier's novels which also sound intriguing.

I received this free ebook from Abbeville Press via Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Rothschilds by Virginia Cowles

Unfortunately, I found this a bit dull and I didn't finish it.  I will try again later.

Prince Rupert by Charles Spencer

Cheryl Hingley, Rupert of the Rhine, Wikipedia

Charles Spencer has written an eloquent biography of this dashing and handsome prince that will go a long way towards restoring his reputation, maligned by his Puritan enemies.  This fast-paced account of Prince Rupert's life is an excellent analysis of his passionate and fiery character, and it also describes the era vividly and clearly.  I especially liked the many historical letters which were included in the book.

Rupert, an excellent and fearless soldier, led his men in several victories during the English Civil War, but his uncle, Charles 1 was easily persuaded by the Prince's enemies and his wife to disregard his opinions about the war, leading to bad strategic mistakes. The King was even led to believe that Rupert was guilty of treason at one stage! Nevertheless, they shared a special relationship, and I found Spencer's tale of the love between this uncle and nephew very moving.

Anyone who is interested in royal history or European history will enjoy this biography of the stylish and brave prince.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright

It's surprising to learn that steely-eyed actor Peter Finch's father (or step-father) was just as interesting as he was! Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright tells the fascinating story of George Ingle Finch, a scientist and mountaineer.  Even people who are not at all interested in climbing, are likely to enjoy this tale of adventure and heartbreak set in colonial Australia, civilised Europe and the then mysterious Himalayas.  (I even liked Wainwright's descriptions of mountaineering, and I get vertigo!)

Finch started his climbing career near Orange where his science-loving father owned a large property. However, the young boy eventually lived with his beautiful, society-loving mother in Europe and finished his education there, eventually studying science and becoming a lecturer.  He had several gifts, including being able to play the piano at concert level. The 'wild colonial boy' went climbing with his brother Max at a young age and soon made a name for himself as an accomplished mountaneer who conquered the highest mountains in Europe and even invented useful products for the steep, icy slopes.  Unfortunately, the Australian Finch was considered an outsider by some of the rather snobbish and jealous Establishment figures in the climbing world, and this was to lead to several unfortunate episodes.  For example, he was left out of an expedition to Mount Everest, and there was also a battle about the use of oxygen on the mountains.

The book also recounts Finch's troubles with women, for example, Peter Finch's mother. She was a pretty young socialite who broke George's heart by constantly being unfaithful.  He punished her by gaining custody of Peter but then left Peter with his grandmother.  Peter lived an enjoyable life in Paris with Laura, George's mother, but the poor young boy ended up in Sydney at a house run by Theosophists and  unwanted by most of his relatives, although his grandfather looked after him for a while.

I highly recommend this book if you like enjoyable biographies about eccentric characters, especially if you are interested in the connection with Peter Finch.

I received this free ebook from Harper Collins Australia via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Wainwright, Robert     Maverick Mountaineer

Paperback   $32.95

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Badass Book of Saints Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live Maria Morera Johnson Ave Maria Press Pub Date: Nov 20 2015 |

This is an inspiring and enjoyable book to read if you are interested in learning about women saints, and women who were 'saintly' in a feisty way.  Maria Johnson includes saints, such as Sr. Blandina who was sent to the Wild West which was full of lynch mobs and St Teresa of Avila who founded seventeen convents and fifteen friaries over the age of fifty. Sr Blandina got rid of one of the lynch mobs by taking an accused man to the bedside of the dying man he had assaulted. The dying man forgave him, so he was tried in a court of law rather than a vigilante mov.

Maria Johnson also has sections on women, such as Nancy Wake and Audrey Hepburn. The Australasian Nancy Wake was known as the 'White Mouse' because of her work for the French Resistance during the war.  Hepburn also helped the resistance in her native Holland, but she is better-known for her acting and her charity work for children. I was glad to see Nancy Wake in the book, although I think that she might be surprised!

I also liked Johnson's relating how learning about these women helped her through very difficult times, such as teaching poor migrants and her parents' sickness and deaths.  They are still assisting her to cope with the hardship of finding out that her husband has Lou Gehrig's disease.

This includes study guides and questions for each chapter.  It would be a great book for teenage girls!

I received this free ebook from Ave Maria Press via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Maria Morera Johnson, My Badass Book of Saints Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live
Ave Maria Press Pub Date: Nov 20 2015  |
paperback $14.95

Joy Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria

The story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman is one of the great love stories of all time, as Abigail Santamaria writes in her well-written and interesting biography.  However, I found this book difficult to read because Joy was so unlikeable compared with her rather jolly and fun-loving husband.  I thought that it was amazing that Lewis fell in love with this annoying woman!

However, Lewis had a strange history with women.  He lived with his friend's mother for many years, and some biographers think that this was a platonic relationship, but it is a mystery.  She was 25 years older, divorced, and demanding.  The young academic was, no doubt, looking for a mother-figure because his mother died when he was very young.

Like Mrs Moore, Joy was divorced and didn't have much money.  However, she was also a much younger intellectual and writer.  Many people found her abrasive and inclined to be shocking.  She also seemed to neglect her sons and hit them a lot.  I tend to agree with Lewis's father who said that his son was 'impetuous' and 'kind-hearted' so he 'could be cajoled by any woman who had been through the mill'.

This book is a thoroughly-researched analysis of Joy's character and her famous love affair and marriage.  I look forward to reading more of Santamaria's books.

I received this free ebook from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Santamaria, Abigail, Joy Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardback  $28.00

Sunday, September 20, 2015

C.S.Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian by Gregory Cootsona

Theo's Little Bot, C.S. Lewis aged 50, Wikipedia Commons.

I actually read this while my mother was dying only a few weeks ago, and it helped me a great deal.  Although I found reading about C.S. Lewis's crises of belief rather heavy-going, I found that reading about the crises that he faced in his life, especially the grief that he felt when his beloved wife passed away was easy to relate to, and I am not surprised that so many people have turned to the famous writer in times of trouble.

Some of Lewis's opinions about Christianity will seem out-dated to some readers.  For example, one of the reasons for his conversion was that human beings yearn for another world, and this convinced him that heaven does indeed exist. Lewis also thought that suffering is good for the soul, and this won't appeal to many people today, although I tend to agree with him.

If you would like an introduction to Cootsona's writing before reading this book, I highly recommend his wonderful post, "C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of Death".